Reflections On The Recent Lockdown By A Man Who Might Be Slightly Inebriated

James Proclaims (4)

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It will be Monday when I post this but, as I write, it is Saturday afternoon. Little Proclaims and I spent much of this morning doing our usual weekend daddy-daughter activities, which mostly consists of feeding ducks and jumping in puddles. I join in with the duck/goose/swan feeding as Little Proclaims, while content to hold a piece of stale bread and shout at the associated waterfowl, is rather less than proactive in actually dispensing the bread to the beneficiaries. I tend not, as a rule, to jump in puddles due to not possessing the appropriate footwear. And not being a toddler. It’s more about the footwear though…

As of the 4th July we have, of course, been permitted to return to playparks, so that too featured this morning. Little Proclaims has very much enjoyed this renewed relationship with the swings, slide and roundabout but by far her favourite activity in the playpark at the moment is to run around aimlessly while shouting excitedly. We go out early and are alone in the park so I try not inhibit this expression of unbridled joy, unless she looks as though she’s about to do something that will result some kind of mishap. Which does happen quite often…

Little Proclaims is now enjoying a much deserved afternoon nap and I am sitting in front of a televised football match that I have fairly limited interest in, drinking some very nice beer, which I purchased for a bargain price at the supermarket and which is making me question whether I will ever return to the pub. I suppose I would like to socialise with the small number of people that I consider friends again but frankly the beer is just as good, and significantly cheaper, at home and I wonder if I really need to go the pub to see them. Maybe the ‘new normal’ will present us with lots of new opportunities to get together, which won’t involve imbibing alcohol in a claustrophobic environment on a Friday evening. Probably not, the world does seem intent on making the ‘new normal’ as much like the ‘old normal’ as possible. Then again I’m sure the ‘old normal’ had plenty of activities that weren’t ‘the pub’. I just didn’t pay them much heed. Perhaps I should stop waiting for the world to change around me and just be a bit more proactive. That does sound like a lot of effort though.

I’m also feeling fairly reluctant to get a haircut. Having rejected Mrs Proclaims kind offer to trim my locks during lockdown, I now have quite the mop. If work, which in my case is based in a secondary school, were operating as usual I’d probably feel more inclined to sort it out, because teenagers can be quite cruel, but there are so few of them there at the moment that I feel I can hang on, particularly with the six-week summer holiday coming up. No doubt by the time September rolls around I’ll be desperate for a trim but I feel I can let things play out for a little longer – who knows, I may decide to opt for an entirely new look at the end of all of this. Maybe a new hairstyle is what I’ve been waiting for to kickstart my journey to being a new and better me.

Or maybe I’ll just be the same person but with different hair.

I expect around the end of August I’ll cave in just have my usual haircut anyway. The non-descript but easy-to-manage look that has served me so adequately for all these years.

I should at least be a slightly fitter version of myself as a result of all of this. My thrice-weekly run has now increased to four-times a week. The main result of adding an extra run per week seems to be that I’ve become much much slower on all of my runs, but as the notion of going for four runs a week was unthinkable only a few months ago, I’d still have to count this as progress.

The swimming pools are due to open soon. No doubt with lots of rules that make it far more difficult to access them, but I should still be able to add swimming back into the mix in some way. I’d like to imagine I’ll stick with the running too, not least because the gyms are also re-opening so there should be less runners about in general, which might mean I can stop getting up at 5am to avoid them.

That said, Little Proclaims does like an early start so it’s unlikely to be the end of my 5am alarm calls…

Being the parent of a small child and still largely having to go to work did mean that lockdown wasn’t the life-altering experience for me as it was for many. Still, I did acquire a little more time as a result of it and I wonder if I really made the most of it.

I’ll have to do better during the next one.

 

James Explains Independence Day

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Happy 4th July everyone!

Today is officially Independence Day in the UK!

What’s that?

July 4th is Independence Day in the United States?

No, that can’t be right. Unless you mean the time that Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum saved the world from aliens in 1996? Because I’m pretty sure that was a movie. And not a great movie if I recall. I mean the effects were pretty good, and the two leads were decent enough, but it was all pretty derivative otherwise.

I haven’t seen the 2016 sequel, but I’ve heard it’s eminently forgettable. Actually, maybe I have seen it…

Anyway, if we’re not talking about the movie then I’m not sure how anyone could claim that Independence Day is a US thing rather than a UK thing.

What’s that you say? It’s to commemorate the 1776 Declaration of Independence, when the Thirteen Colonies ceased being part of the British Empire?

Actually, to be fair, that doesn’t sound like something we would want to celebrate in the UK. Indeed, I can’t imagine we would have been overly keen on that development back in 1776.

But hey, water under the bridge and all that.

If something that happened 244 years ago is still worth having a party for then go for it my American friends.

But we’ve got an Independence Day that really is worth celebrating over here. Because today is the day that we’ve finally beaten COVID 19 and we can get back to normality and doing what we do best in this country.

Which is getting drunk.

Because the pubs are open again!

Except for where they aren’t. Which I think is Scotland and Wales. And the city of Leicester. Which could be indicative that the easing of lockdown in the rest of the UK is premature. But it definitely isn’t.

Obviously, we haven’t stopped getting drunk just because the pubs have been shut anyway, because we’re British and the second the rules were relaxed on going to the park more than once a day, we’ve been in out in our masses, enjoying the sunshine and getting absolutely hammered. But now we can pay more money to do that in the pubs, which is superb news for the British Economy.

So, on this most British of Independence Days, I urge all of my compatriots to head to their nearest alehouse with the utmost haste.

Unless you want to get a haircut first, because that is also now permitted.

And shops have been open for ages, so you can go and spend your money there too, as long as you are planning on getting absolutely wasted at some point today.

Oi, you in the Lycra – where do you think you’re going?

The gym? I don’t think so my friend. While it is an actual fact that we have beaten the virus to a safe enough level for excessive alcohol consumption in overcrowded bars, we still need to act with some restraint. Gyms and swimming pools are obviously much more dangerous than pubs. Yes, today is a day for celebration but we can’t afford to do anything reckless like indoor exercise.

Honestly, some people…

Oh, and in terms of meeting up with other people, just to clarify:

  • You can meet as many people as you like in the pub
  • You can meet up to six people outside unless you would like to meet more people than that.
  • You can go to another person’s house and stay overnight, but you must only go to one house at a time. Anyone caught simultaneously in two houses at any one time will feel the full weight of the law. Which is currently about 8.2 mg, the same weight as the average feather.
  • You still need to stay either 2 metres or 1 metre apart from other people unless you can’t or you don’t want to.
  • You must get drunk.
  • There was definitely something about bubbles. Possibly champagne bubbles, but I’m sure any sparkling wine will do.

Above all else, remember these simple rules:

 

Stay Drunk

Ignore The Facts

Spend Your Money

 

 

 

An Homage To The Now Departed Daily Briefing

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Hello and welcome to today’s update
We haven’t got anything new to say
Nothing’s really changed since yesterday
But it’s important, nonetheless
That we update you anyway
Otherwise you’ll realise
That we haven’t got any idea what we’re doing

We’d rather give the impression
That we do know what we’re doing
Even though we don’t
Because no-one wants to admit
That they don’t know what they’re doing
It’s not a great look
It’s much better
To create the illusion of competency
Aided where possible
By meaningless diagrams
And complex terminology
That no-one understands
Because we just made it up

And lets not dwell too heavily
On things we said in the past
Because a lot has changed since then
And it wouldn’t serve anyone
To focus too heavily
On our broken promises
Over-optimistic forecasts
And, if we’re honest
(Which we never are)
What can only be described as outright lies

Let us instead
Look to the future
And what we can achieve moving forwards
Because if we use different lies
To the other lies we told
Then some people will still believe us
And that’s the main thing really
And everything will probably be fine in the end anyway
If we just ignore the facts
And concentrate heavily on soundbites
And a bit of misdirection
And just blame everyone else

So today I’d like to announce
The latest thing we’re going to do
It’s brilliant
And better than what anyone else is doing
If you don’t believe us then just you wait
Yes you can quote me on that
But only today
Not in two weeks
When it turns out
That this was just more hyperbole
And in the meantime
Stop being so negative will you?
Honestly, what’s the worst that could happen?

Renaissance

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It has been a difficult time
For everyone
And the world might have changed now
Beyond all recognition

It is more than possible
That things will never be the same
And as a species we will have to adjust
To adapt, to reframe, to reflect

But out of the ashes of despair
Opportunity rises like the Phoenix
Now is the time to innovate
To improve
To reassess our priorities
To think differently

Although the current plan
As far as I can make out
Is to do things exactly the same as before
But less well

Welcome To The New Normal

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Welcome to the new normal
It’s a bit like the old normal
But with a smidgen less freedom
A tiny bit less choice
And quite a lot less fun

On the plus side though
There are more queues
And more joggers
A lot more joggers
And there is more than enough fear for everyone

And there are more rules
Although the rules don’t apply to everyone
And they can be quite confusing
And most people just ignore them

It’s not all change though
Much like the old normal
If you’re not sure what to do
Or even what to think
Then the Internet can help

It’s still full of the advice and opinions
Of people who are a bit famous
And therefore better than you
And they are more than happy
To tell you how to live your life
And what you should believe

Lately though
A lot of them seem to keep going on
And on and on and on
About something called
‘The New Normal’
Whatever that is

James Interrogates ‘The Science’

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Like many people I’ve been slightly perplexed by the way the British government has handled the ongoing pandemic. It’s not that I fundamentally disagree with anything the government is doing. I would like to disagree, but while I lack any remote understanding of what they are doing, I’m not sure I can disagree.

Because to my, possibly untrained, eye, it’s not so much that they are employing ‘the wrong strategy’ as much as they seem to be employing absolutely no strategy at all.

From the outside looking in, it appears that Boris and co have been winging this from day one and that every action seems to be in direct contradiction to something else they have said previously. They don’t always even seem to agree with each other.

But one of the more troubling aspects has always been the fact that they keep telling us that they are guided by ‘the science’. And while that seems relatively easy to refute, given that all along this journey a large number of eminent scientists have spoken out against government strategy, it seems even more in doubt since a number of scientists on the government’s own advisory team have also contradicted some of the more recent hyperbole.

And to me ‘guided by the science’ is quite a troubling phrase, because surely, given the limited scope of human knowledge and the diversity of views within the scientific community, you could, at best, only ever claim to be guided by ‘some science’.

But, after much digging, I have been able to establish the truth behind this seemingly chimerical claim.

Because when Johnson, Raab et al. refer to being guided by ‘The Science’ they are actually referring to former semi-professional wrestler Tommy ‘The Science’ McVitie.

I was able to catch up with Mr McVitie, or as he prefers to be known ‘The Science’ earlier this week, via one of those video conferencing apps that everyone seems to enjoy using at the moment. I’m pleased to be able to share some of that interview with you now:

Me: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me, Mr McVitie.

The Science: Please, call me ‘The Science’.

Me: Erm…ok. Well let’s start there then. Why exactly do you call yourself ‘The Science’?

The Science: I don’t. Other people do. Boris does. Govey does. Both of the Dominics do.

Me: Matt Hancock?

The Science: Who?

Me: The Health Secretary?

The Science: Never heard of him.

Me: Ok… erm…so why do people call you ‘The Science’.

The Science: It’s my wrestling name. It was a sort of ironic nickname, because I didn’t actually manage to get any GCSEs.

Me: What, none at all?

The Science: Not a single one mate.

Me: Why focus on science then? I mean if you failed everything…

The Science: Dunno. Just seemed funny at the time.

Me: It’s not funny though is it?

The Science: With the benefit of hindsight, no it isn’t. But the name stuck so what you gonna do?

Me: I can’t help you there. Anyway, it does seem quite a leap to go from being a, fairly unsuccessful semi-professional wrestler, by which I mean no offense obviously…

The Science: None taken, I was rubbish.

Me: Right, yeah, so it seems quite a stretch to go from there to being what seems like quite an influential advisory figure within the British government.

The Science: Well you know Dominic Cummings yeah?

Me: I’m aware of him.

The Science: Yeah well you might be aware that earlier in the year he was trying to recruit weirdos and misfits to work in number ten.

Me: I had come across that notion, yes.

The Science: Yeah, well I’m one of them.

Me: Ok, it’s starting to make a bit of sense now, but I still don’t get how you have become such an influential figure.

The Science: Neither do I. But it’s a bit of a laugh isn’t it?

Me: Not really. I mean we are now one of the countries that has been the worst hit by this pandemic and that seems to be largely down to your advice.

The Science: Hardly seems plausible does it?

Me: And yet it weirdly makes more sense that any other explanation.

The Science: Even I’m not always comfortable with it to be honest. But they keep asking me what they should do, and I’m not even remotely qualified, so I just ask Dominic and he tells me what to say. He’s nice like that .

Me: Cummings or Raab?

The Science: One of them yeah. The one that’s in charge.

Me: Raab then? The man that stood in for Boris when he was sick.

The Science: No, it’s definitely the other one.

Me: Ok, but Mr Cummings is just a special advisor surely? He’s not in charge of the whole country?

The Science: If that’s what helps you sleep at night mate.

Me: Right, well speaking of Mr Cummings, what did you make of the recent controversy surrounding his behaviour in lockdown?

The Science: No problem with it. He behaved completely within the rules.

Me: I think that’s a generous interpretation of events. At the very best you could argue he manipulated a rule surrounding childcare to suit his own ends.

The Science: No, I’m not talking about that rule. I did find it strange when he kept banging on about childcare. No the rule I’m talking about is the rule that says you can do whatever you want if you’re an overprivileged t*** who thinks he’s better than everyone else.

Me: I wasn’t aware of that rule.

The Science: Well you wouldn’t be would you. It wasn’t written for you.

Me: What about the trip to Barnard Castle?

The Science: Yeah he was definitely taking the p*** there.

Me: So what are your views on face masks?

The Science: Not for me mate. Some wrestlers like them but I prefer the punters to see my ugly mug.

Me: No I didn’t mean…never mind. I think we’ll leave it there. Thanks for your time Mr McVitie.

The Science: Call me ‘The Science’.

Me: I’m not sure I feel comfortable doing that.

The Science: Call me ‘The Science’ or I’ll show you just how bad a wrestler I really was…

Me: I’m not being funny, but I’ve seen the footage. Even in your day you were average at best, and frankly you look like you’ve seen better days, so I don’t think threatening me is as intimidating as you think it is.

The Science: Fair enough mate. Always works on Govey though.

Me: I can imagine…

 

 

 

James Explains The Easing Of Lockdown

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There were one or two suggestions after my post on Tuesday that I was somehow advocating irresponsible drinking with large numbers of other people in the park. So, I should probably clarify that that is not in line with current government advice.

Current government advice is that you can get drunk anywhere you like, as long as you are outside. So don’t feel restricted to the parks. The seaside is just as appropriate.

But it’s important to remember, that if you are going to mingle with others from outside your household, you should restrict the number of people to six. But obviously if someone else from your household comes along, they don’t count, so you could have seven people really. And that person can bring five other people too, so there could be twelve of you. Throw in a third or fourth person from your household and their allocation of friends and you can have quite the party.

And you can have that party in your garden, but not in your house. Obviously with all that government mandated drinking, some people will need the toilet, and that is not allowed. But you are allowed to use common sense. And common sense would dictate that if someone does need the toilet, they should probably be allowed to go. If you have enough toilet roll obviously. And if you’re going to let people into the house to use the toilet, then common sense would suggest that they might as well be permitted to use other rooms in the house. So, rather than restricting your gathering of (however many people live in your house multiplied by six) to just the garden, you may as well make full use of the facilities.

But remember to stay two metres apart. Unless you don’t want to. They’re probably going to scrap that advice soon anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

And there’s absolutely no need to wear a face mask unless you are a masked vigilante. But you should wear one if you are a masked vigilante because otherwise it would be false advertising and we don’t need that level of confusion in our lives right now.

Essentially though, you can go where you like and do what you want. Although I can’t take my daughter to the swings, because that isn’t yet permitted. But schools are open again, except where they aren’t, because all children, across the board and without exception, are completely 100% immune to the virus and so are all adults who work with children. Also people who are related to children or related to people who work with children are immune so schools are perfectly safe. And park benches are safe, for people to sit and drink in the sunshine. But swings, slides, climbing frames and seesaws are not safe.

Unless they are in a school. Then they are safe.

Anyway if you are concerned about the easing of lockdown then don’t worry, because the five conditions that needed to be met before lockdown could be eased have now been met. Apart from the ones that haven’t. But they more or less have all been met if you just ignore some of the facts.

I hope I have cleared up any misconceptions but please do ask Facebook or Twitter if you need further clarification.

 

 

 

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?

James Proclaims (4)

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As is the case for most people, it has been a while since I had a haircut.

Not that this is anything new, I’m more than a little familiar with the ‘unkempt’ look. It’s kind of my style really.

Still, even by my standards I’m looking less kempt than usual. It doesn’t bother me, I don’t see anyone anyway. And I have a hat for the occasions I need to venture out.

And Mrs Proclaims says she likes my hair longer, so there’s no problem on the marital front.

Except that she wants to cut my hair.

Not because she thinks I really need a haircut, but because she just wants to play at being a hairdresser.

Now my wife has many talents, she is an exceptionally gifted linguist, a high-achieving academic and a wonderful mother to our daughter.

But she is not a hairdresser. And her claims that she wanted to be a hairdresser when she was a little girl don’t, in my eyes, qualify her for the job.

After all, I had dreams of being a rock star, but I won’t be headlining Glastonbury any time soon. And not just because the festival has been cancelled this year.

So I am refusing to let her cut my hair.

Some might call me belligerent, others may call me vain. And I’m fine with either of those labels – they both are fairly true.

But I’d still prefer to hang on a bit longer.

If nothing else, growing my hair a bit might help to establish more of a ‘rock star’ look, which could, in turn,  secure me that headline slot at Glastonbury for 2021.

 

 

 

James Explains ‘Common Sense’

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As lockdown restrictions ease in England, despite an apparent lack of clear guidance on…well anything much, the British government has made it clear, on multiple occasions that people should use their ‘Common Sense’.

But what it this thing they call ‘Common Sense’?

And do we all have it?

Or is it a bit like ‘The Force’ off of Star Wars?

Or is it nothing like ‘The Force’ off of Star Wars, but having spent the entirety of May watching and writing about Star Wars, I’ve started to confuse Star Wars with reality?

It’s more than possible.

But I don’t think ‘Common Sense’ is like ‘The Force’.

So we might all have it.

But, in case you’re not sure, why not try this multiple choice quiz to see if you have ‘Common Sense’?

Question 1:

You’re the Prime Minister of a country, a bit like the UK, and you hear there is a pandemic on the way. One of the key pieces of advice is that you avoid unnecessary contact with people and you wash your hands thoroughly. Do you:

a) Adhere to the guidelines and encourage others to do so?

b) Just shake hands with anyone you meet, including people who currently have COVID 19 and then brag about it to the media, before becoming the only world leader to contract the virus, which ultimately incapacitates you at a time when your country needs leadership more than ever?

 

Question 2:

You’re the Health Secretary of a country, a bit like the UK, and there isn’t enough equipment to support the frontline workers in the health service, or enough testing kits to adhere to advice about testing, as given out by the World Health Organisation. Do you:

a) Admit there is a problem and work with skilled and competent people to try and solve the problem.

b) Just lie about it and hope no-one really notices.

 

Question 3:

You’re the special adviser to the Prime Minister of a country, a bit like the UK and you’ve helped come up with the very regulations, which are guiding the country through this crisis. Do you:

a) Follow your own guidelines religiously, knowing that, during such difficult times, some people will probably only be able to follow the rules if they perceive that they really do apply to everyone.

b) Break the rules, then pretend that what you did was actually within the rules all along and if people didn’t realise that, it was their own stupid fault. Idiots!

 

Question 4:

You’ve been quite ill, and you think it might have affected your eyesight. You were about to embark on a fairly long journey, but you’re not sure if it’s really safe to drive. Do you:

a) Not drive, knowing that the only safe course of action here is to wait until you are sure that your eyesight is fine.

b) Go on a shorter, but still quite long, drive to a popular tourist attraction, with your wife and small child in the car, knowing that if you don’t have a road traffic accident on this shorter (but not actually short) drive, then you’re probably safe to attempt the much longer drive that you were worried about.

 

Question 5:

You’re the Prime Minister of a country, a bit like the UK and your special advisor has been caught breaking the rules. It’s a sensitive time, public morale is already quite low and people are understandably angry about the situation. Do you:

a) Insist on the special advisor resigning. Ultimately, even if there is some justification for his actions (and there obviously isn’t) it would be better to appease the general public and ensure that some kind of adherence to government guidance (such as it is) continues until this crisis has abated.

b) Just pretend that what he did was fine, allow him to keep his job and stick two fingers up to the public.

 

Results

If you answered mostly ‘a’ then I’m afraid you don’t have one iota of ‘Common Sense’ and you can’t be trusted to make your own decisions. So you will need to continue to follow all government advice quite rigorously. Although most of that advice appears to be to use your ‘Common Sense’. Which is going to be quite difficult for you. Probably best to just get drunk in the park with some friends until further notice.

If you answered mostly ‘b’ then you do have ‘Common Sense’ so, according to the latest government advice, you can do whatever you want. I’d recommend getting drunk in the park with some friends. What harm can come from that?

 

If you have any questions regarding any of the above then feel free to ask for clarification from someone.

Obviously not me though.

 

 

 

 

 

May The Soon Be With You

James Proclaims (4)

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Without a shadow of a doubt, life on lockdown has hit other people harder than me. I am, under the circumstances, relatively lucky. I have a job that still needs me to work (I mean the work bit is mildly irritating but in the current climate, gainful employment seems to be a definite asset), I have a small but perfectly adequate garden available to me, I live close enough to supermarkets to not worry too much about accessing supplies yet I also live close enough to a river to make my daily allocation of exercise quite tolerable (apart from the actual exercise, which has always been far more functional than fun for me).

Also I live with a very energetic toddler, so boredom has yet to really be an issue.

By far the biggest asset for me in surviving lockdown though, is that I am something of a misanthrope. Maybe not a fully-fledged misanthrope but certainly someone with misanthropic tendencies. I don’t wish any ill to befall my fellow citizens, but I’m perfectly happy to avoid them. Social gatherings have always been things to tolerate rather than enjoy and though there are a small number of people on the planet whose company I do enjoy, I am perfectly content, for the most part, with my own company. Certainly, my own company alongside the company of my wife and daughter are more than sufficient for me at the moment.

Which is not to say I don’t find the whole pandemic thing deeply distressing.  I would much prefer there not to be a life-threatening virus at large and the obvious misery, hardship and fear being experienced by people worldwide is profoundly upsetting.

And at times of difficulty, I do what any sensible person would do, and I look for comfort wherever I can find it. I have spent much of April writing about music and listening to music is something that I find can bring me a lot of solace. But times are extraordinarily bleak at the moment so I’m having to resort to the ‘big guns’.

And when I am at a point where everything has become too much for me, there really is only one recourse I can take.

And that is to watch Star Wars.

A lot.

I love Star Wars. I have always loved Star Wars. I think I probably will always love Star Wars.

But I am not, necessarily what you would call a ‘Star Wars geek’. I don’t know all there is to know about Star Wars. I haven’t, for example, read any of the associated novels or comic books. I haven’t played, nor do I intend to play, any of the associated video games.

I just really like the films. As do literally millions of other people on the planet.

They’re really popular.

Maybe I do love Star Wars more than some of those other millions of people and maybe I do know more about the movies than a lot of people. I’m not an expert, I wouldn’t purport to be an expert but when people have conversations about “who shot first?” I know exactly what they are talking about and I know that the correct answer is “Han”. But I still think that probably puts me in quite a large group of people.

‘Geek’ as a general term might be a fair description of me. I wouldn’t eschew it. I just wouldn’t want to claim that I love Star Wars more than anyone else. Because there are loads of people who love Star Wars as much as me, if not significantly more than me.

But it’s still true to say I love Star Wars.

I couldn’t tell you why I love Star Wars. I just always have. My mum tells me that, when I was a very small and difficult to please child (as opposed to the large and difficult to please adult I’ve become) she could stick me in front of Star Wars and I literally wouldn’t move for the duration of the movie. Alas, back in those days my mother was fairly reliant on Star Wars actually being shown on the telly, which tended to happen around Christmas time. For ages I thought of Star Wars as being intrinsically a Christmas thing, but these days I’m too busy watching other movies (as the very small number of people who keep reading my blog in December when I write about nothing else will be able to attest) so Star Wars has to fit in at other times of the year. And to be honest I’ve seen some of the movies so many times I have taken to restricting how often I allow myself to watch them.

But currently all bets are off, and with the recent arrival of Disney Plus in the UK (and what a timely launch that has turned out to be) I now have most of the movies and a lot of other Star Wars related stuff available without even having to go to the trouble of inserting a DVD into the player.

As a consequence, I might have, in recent days, resorted to watching a lot of the movies and associated TV shows.

When I haven’t been working or looking after my daughter obviously.

And with the month of May being around the corner, what better time is there to devote a lot of my blog to writing about Star Wars? What with people often referring to the fourth day of May as ‘Star Wars Day’. Because, very cleverly, you can say “May the Fourth be with you” on that day…

As the central set of movies (‘The Skywalker Saga’ if you will) was notionally completed last year, this year seems a particularly good time to be writing about Star Wars anyway, but with the current state of the world, and me needing to go to my happy place a lot more than normal, it’s probably all I can write about.

So once my A-Z of music is completed on Thursday, I will be mostly writing about Star Wars until I’ve exhausted every possible avenue for writing about Star Wars.

In honour of Star Wars Day, I’m going to title each of my posts in a similar fashion, starting with ‘May The First Be With You’ on Friday and so on. Which is exactly the kind of thing I would do.

I imagine I’ll run out of Star Wars stuff to write about soon enough and be back to writing about the mundanities of life, which is the content that has resulted in literally tens of people all over the world following my blog.

But until then, it’s all going to be about stuff that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

A Pun-ishing Eggs-ercise In Which I Shell Not Egg-Cell In Cracking Eggs-tremely Eggs-cellent Yolks

James Proclaims (4)

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If the title of the post has brought you to here in the eggs-pectation that I’ll be cracking lots of egg-based puns then I’m sorry to disappoint, but I won’t be.

Apart from in that sentence.

Which I admit, looks a little misleading as disclaimers go.

But, much as I enjoy a good egg-based pun it’s eggs-hausting trying to crowbar them into whatever I’m writing, so I’m not going to do any more.

But if you want to leave some in the comments then feel free.

The comments section of a blog is the place for egg-based humour.

I look forward to seeing you there.

In the meantime I must write about the elephant in the room.

Which is not an actual elephant.

I’ve done a whole post about an actual elephant in the room before. It was hilarious. You can read it now if you click on these words.

The elephant in this post is entirely metaphorical. For the elephant in this room is none-other than the noble Easter Egg.

I know Easter isn’t really about the giving and receiving of chocolate eggs and frankly the worldwide pandemic is causing bigger issues than whether or not I get to eat a chocolate egg or two today.

But I like an Easter Egg. It reminds me of when I was a child. And given that I have really struggled over the last forty-one years with the whole ‘growing-up’ malarkey, I need things like overpriced chocolate eggs to keep my, rather loud, inner child happy. Also I have a rather loud ‘outer’ child who lives in my house. She’s my daughter.

Although she’s still only twenty months old so she doesn’t much care about Easter Eggs yet.

I’m certain she’d like an Easter Egg if I gave her one, because she does like chocolate.

Or she claims to like chocolate.

I mean she does like actual chocolate, but she tends to refer to lots of things that aren’t chocolate as chocolate. She often uses  it as a synonym for things which look quite appealing to eat.

Sometimes it might be other nice things like gingerbread or cake.

But the other day I distinctly heard her refer to a stone she found in the garden as chocolate so I’m not sure her tastes are all that discerning yet.

But back to the eggs.

Often Mrs Proclaims and I will buy each other an Easter Egg. It’s one of many things we try to do to demonstrate that we like each other.

Which we do.

But in the current climate, we’re only supposed to go out to make essential purchases.

And it’s hard to argue that an Easter Egg is an essential purchase.

There were stories in the media about the police taking issue with certain shops who were selling Easter Eggs. It’s hard to imagine that could be down to the British media seizing on one or two incidents of slightly overzealous policing at a time of great confusion and uncertainty to provoke a reaction from an already bewildered and fearful public. That doesn’t sound like the British media at all…

Still, Easter Eggs have been on sale in the supermarkets, so, while it would seem irresponsible for Mrs Proclaims and I to have gone out specifically to buy them, I felt entirely justified in just shoving some into the trolley when I was braving Tesco for my essential weekly groceries recently.

There was an offer if you bought three so I bought three.

Which could be distributed evenly between my wife, my child and myself.

But, as discussed, Little Proclaims is really too young to have her own Easter Egg.

And if I’m honest, Mrs Proclaims didn’t desperately want one either.

So I may have purchased three largish chocolate eggs entirely for my own consumption.

Obviously my wife and daughter might have a bit of chocolate egg here and there to help me out.

But I’m going to be eating most of the chocolate myself.

On reflection, this may not have been a sensible purchase.

But the supermarkets are such stressful places these days.

So I think, by only getting three, I actually demonstrated great restraint.

And for the first time in a long time, there was plenty of toilet paper on the supermarket shelves this week, so if excessive chocolate consumption causes any undesirable effects, then I’m covered there too.

 

 

 

Blowing Out The Birthday Blues For The Second Consecutive Year

James Proclaims (4)

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Though I wrote very little on my blog in 2019, I did manage a post on my birthday.

It was a post lamenting a fairly rubbish birthday.

So, I had moderately high hopes that this year things would be marginally better. After all, this year my birthday fell on a Saturday and not just any Saturday, but the beginning of the Easter holidays.

So there was a reasonable chance I’d be able to mark the occasion, even if only in the most modest of ways.

I did not expect the festivities to be quite as modest as they ended up being though.

For reasons that are no doubt abundantly clear to anyone who has even the vaguest grasp of current affairs, I chose to spend my birthday mostly by staying in my house. And in the evening my family and I really pushed the boat out by not going out.

I shouldn’t complain. Not being able to celebrate one’s birthday is hardly the greatest of hardships given the state of the world. Many people have it worse than me.

And actually, my family made a real effort to make my birthday as special as it could be under the circumstances. I received no shortage of birthday wishes via social media and in the form of actual cards that people had posted early enough that they would get to me by yesterday.

Also I had presents.

Not one of those presents was toilet paper though, and really that does seem an oversight on the part of the gift-givers.

In all honesty, I was never going to do anything extravagant for my birthday and I’m grateful that I was able to spend it with my wonderful wife and daughter.

I’m also lucky to have such a lovely extended family, and while it’s hard that I can’t see them at the moment, the regular messages, photos and video we’re sharing with each other are some consolation.

We’re all a bit sadder today, because like so many, we’ve been personally affected by the current pandemic.

But I know we’ll be there for each other and during these difficult times, that really is something to hold on to.

 

 

 

 

 

Positively Pessimistic

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Restriction to your home is not
The worst kind of jail
You can still pretend to work
If you can access your email

But it’s easy to find reasons
To not be very cheerful
When it seems that you’re increasingly
Encouraged to be fearful

It’s appears that times are dark
And possibly quite bleak
It’s hard to know what month it is
Let alone what day or week

And when you venture out
It’s worse outside than in
Attempts to buy toilet paper
Always end in your chagrin

You try to stay upbeat
But optimism’s hard to sell
When the contents of the half-full glass
Have a funny smell

Cautionary Tales

James Proclaims (4)

As the parent of a small child, I’m not unfamiliar with a children’s story or two. My daughter has a voracious appetite for literature. I mean quite literally, as I’ll often find her nibbling on a book.

Although she does appear to be growing out of that phase and enjoying books for their content too.

And I like reading them to her.

To be honest, I’m increasingly becoming a fan of books that are aimed at younger people. They have a lot of advantages over the books I normally read.

For starters, there are significantly fewer words, which means that when I pick one up and start reading it, I generally do always finish. This, alas, is not always the case for the books that are aimed at someone of my age.

Also there are pictures. It’s so much easier and more fun to read a book with pictures in it. Why does that stop when you get older?

Mainly though, I like books aimed at little children, because they are, for the most part, hugely entertaining.

Some make me laugh out loud.

Check out the ‘Oi Frog’ series of books by Kes Gray and Jim Field and I guarantee you will laugh multiple times.

Other favourites (of mine, though my daughter generally likes them too) would have to include ‘Wonkey Donkey’, ‘There’s a Monster in your Book’ and ‘Superworm’.

It occurs to me, however, that some of the books that I read with my daughter might have a slightly irresponsible message in these corona-times.

So I’ve taken the liberty of updating some of the ‘classics’ in order to make them more compliant with a world of social-distancing and ‘self-isolation’.

We’re Not Going On A Bear Hunt

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We’re not going on a bear hunt
We’re not going to catch a big one
What a beautiful day
We’re quite scared

Uh Uh! Government Advice!
Alarming, disarming government advice!
We can’t go over it
We can’t go under it
Oh no!
We’ll just have to stay in and self-isolate!

The Tiger Who Didn’t Come To Tea

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Once there was a little girl called Sophie, and she was having tea with her mummy in the kitchen.

Suddenly there was a ring at the door.

Sophie’s mummy said, “I wonder who that can be,

It can’t be the milkman because demands for that service have resulted in them refusing to accept new customers.

And it can’t be the boy from the grocer because you can’t book a home delivery slot for love nor money

And it can’t be Daddy because he isn’t a key-worker, so he’s already at home.

We’d better open the door and see.”

Sophie opened the door, and there was a big, furry, stripy tiger. The tiger said, “Excuse me, but I’m very hungry. Do you think I could have tea with you?”

Sophie’s mummy said, “I’m sorry, but due to the government’s policy on social-distancing, we can’t have anyone around for tea.”

The tiger nodded and said, “of course, I completely understand.”

And he left.

The Socially Responsible Gruffalo

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A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good
But because the fox was adhering to advice on social-distancing, he didn’t interact with the mouse and instead returned promptly to his underground house.

And the same thing happened with the owl and the snake.
So the mouse didn’t meet anyone
Until he happened upon the Gruffalo

But the Gruffalo and the mouse also adhered to social-distancing etiquette
So they didn’t speak to each other.
And both also promptly returned to their homes
Once they’d had their daily allocation of exercise.

 

 

Pandemical Positives

James Proclaims (4)

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No-one loves a pandemic more than me.

Then again, no-one loves a pandemic less than me.

Because, presumably, no-one loves a pandemic.

Except possibly toilet-paper manufacturers.

But, on the whole, it’s fair to say that this whole pandemic malarkey is pretty bad news.

Nevertheless, if you can shake off the never-ending panic and crippling fear for a few moments, then there are one or two positives to be taken from the current situation we find ourselves in.

If you can ignore the agonizing pain of hand-washing-induced eczema caused by your ever-diminishing supplies of hand-soap, then you may yet find a reason or two to be cheerful.

Yes, in amongst the terrifying realisation that you’ve invented a new mental health condition that combines all the worst parts of claustrophobia, agoraphobia, enochlophobia, nosophobia and OCD, there could still be a silver-lining hidden amongst the gathering clouds of doom.

The British media might have you believe that the positives come from a camaraderie that is beginning to develop between us all. A sense that we’re all in this together. There was a moment on Thursday evening when many of us stood in our doorways and applauded the workers of the NHS. I’m normally cynical about such things but I’ll concede it was a much-needed moment of solidarity and actually genuinely heart-warming.

Still, I’ll feel even better about my fellow humans when I begin to see plentiful supplies of loo roll on the supermarket shelves.

And important though NHS staff undoubtedly are in this crisis, I personally feel that anyone who currently works in a supermarket is also deserving of our national gratitude. Because, although I’m avoiding the big stores as much as possible, when I have been forced to cross the threshold of one, I’ve found the staff to be universally  helpful, polite and friendly, which, in the current circumstances, is nothing short of heroic in my view.

The news, despite being mostly apocalyptic in tone, is interspersed with the odd bit of light relief. I enjoyed the story of the man who, deprived of his opportunity to run this year’s London marathon, opted to run the entire distance in his back garden. Although, the makeshift finish line, crafted by his son did seem like a frivolous use of toilet paper, all things considered.

For me though, the greatest positive is my family.

Deprived of actual contact with our parents and siblings, Mrs Proclaims and I have never been more active on social media. The daily videos of our nieces and nephews being ridiculously cute, comically crazy or, most often, a combination of both has been nothing short of delightful.

It’s probably sad to say we’re seeing more of them ‘virtually’ now then we ever managed in reality before all of this started.

And being trapped in a house with my own wife and child has actually been only beneficial. Of course Mrs Proclaims and I have our moments of discord, but we always did. I believe that’s called marriage.

But I think spending more time together has actually been good for us.

And, while I like to think I’ve always been pretty good at making time for the littlest ‘Proclaims’, the enforced additional time at home has helped me to connect with her on a whole new level and in the bizarrest, most unexpected of situations, I occasionally find myself feeling happier than I have in a long time.

Although I’m not sure my daughter shares the sentiment.

One of the more pretentious aspects of our parenting is that we’re attempting to bring our daughter up to be fluent in French. Mrs Proclaims and I speak French (she far better than I) so it seems like the least we could do is pass on that skill to our child.

And she’s developing quite well in that respect, having a vocabulary in both English and French that is pretty impressive for a toddler just shy of being twenty months old.

But one of her favourite French expressions at the moment is the following:

“Aux secours!”

Which roughly translates as:

“Help!”

And she only says it when I’m around.

 

 

 

 

 

Much Like A Stopped Clock, He Was Right Occasionally. Although Not As Often As A Stopped Clock…

James Proclaims (4)

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I used to have a boss. For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call him Brian. He wasn’t called Brian, but he wasn’t a bad guy and I’m about to do something of a character assassination on him. He deserves it for being a rubbish boss, but not for being a rubbish human. I mean, I don’t think he could ever be described as one of life’s winners (I’m not certain I could ever claim that with any conviction either, but in the league table of life, I would definitely place higher than poor Brian) and it would seem wrong to use his real name. Much like kicking a puppy is wrong. Even if they have just done something unpleasant on the carpet.

His heart was mostly in the right place.

Sadly, his brain rarely was.

I’ve had a lot of bosses I’ve hated more, but that was mostly because they were genuinely horrible people. Often, they were not too bad at their jobs though. Which made them reasonable bosses.

On balance I’d rather have a boss that I dislike personally but who is good at their job.

Poor Brian was bad at his job. So bad at his job that he didn’t hold onto it for very long.

In the interests of full disclosure, when Brian was asked to vacate his position, it was me that was asked to fill it. There was, however, no Machiavellian manoeuvring on my part. Brian’s downfall was of Brian’s own making. I didn’t really want the job to be honest. It wasn’t that good a job. But it was marginally better-paid than the job I had been doing so I agreed to step into his shoes temporarily, and then somehow ended up staying in those shoes for quite a while. They were, ultimately, not hard shoes to fill.

It may seem boastful to say that I did a much better job than Brian, but to be fair Brian was so bad at his job that a poorly trained monkey could have made a better fist of it. As a moderately well-trained monkey, it was quite easy for me.

I’m not saying I was anything other than adequate, but I was at least able to leave on my own terms when I did decide to move on.

Brian made mistakes that were just unfathomably stupid. And he did this multiple times a day.

And the trouble was, this was a role in which the lives of some pretty vulnerable children were affected. So, although he was more of a bumbling idiot than an evil despot, the results for these young people were still quite bleak as a result of some of his actions.

Therefore, Brian had to go.

But to give him his due, he did get one thing right.

In the toilets of the place we worked, he insisted on putting up a poster with some quite detailed instructions on how to wash your hands properly.

“Come on Brian,” his colleagues (including yours truly) protested, “that’s a bit over the top isn’t it? No-one’s about to carry out surgery. Surely we don’t need to be quite so explicit with the hand-washing message?”

But, in these troubled times, it’s now abundantly clear that Brian was entirely correct with regards his zealous attitude to hand-washing.

And I hope that wherever he is now, and whatever he’s doing, he can reflect on that fact with some satisfaction.

Pandemically Proverbial

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Home is where the heart is
Which is useful because it’s also where the rest of me is
All the time now
And I like to be where my heart is
I need my heart
To stay alive
Indeed I’m not quite sure how I managed to cope
When I was allowed to leave my home
If my heart was always there

They say keep your friends close
And your enemies closer
But that seems like really bad advice at the moment
Current government guidance is to keep both very far way indeed

There’s no time like the present
Although yesterday was quite a lot like today
And I have a strong feeling tomorrow will be quite similar too
So, there are some times that are a bit like the present
In the current climate, it seems like a lot of times will
Be very much like the present
As we never leave our homes

And two heads are not better than one
When attempting to social distance
One head is the optimum number of heads
To do that effectively

And to that end,
If you can’t beat them,
Under no circumstances should you join them
And you should absolutely not
Bite the hand that feeds you
Unless that hand has been washed
For at least twenty seconds using soap
Or at the very least a high alcohol hand sanitiser
But soap is better
And I for one will only be biting hands that have used soap

Yes, home is where the heart is
And there’s no place like home
Not that any of us will ever get the chance to test that sentiment
Anytime soon

Don’t Panic!

James Proclaims (4)

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In these unusual times, you do start to reassess your values and priorities and begin to focus on what’s really important.

And for the people of Britain, what’s really important appears to be toilet paper. It’s one of the cornerstones of our national identity apparently.

I had eschewed the supermarkets in recent days but ventured forth last night and the situation regarding hand soap and the aforementioned loo roll still seems pretty bleak, and it’s concerning that this is still the case in what feels like quite a long time after restrictions were imposed on how much of this stuff you can actually buy in any one visit.

For now we’re holding out at Chez Proclaims, but I fear we will run out of these staples of British life long before the supermarkets are back to being adequately stocked. I might have to sneak into the school that employs me (which is still currently operating, seemingly for the benefit of one solitary student – a preposterous figure in it’s own right, but more so when you realise that in my school it translates to less than 0.1% of the entire student body) to steal some of the toilet paper from there if the situation doesn’t improve soon.

Fortunately food seems to be less of an issue. Milk seems a little problematic (how and why are people stockpiling milk? Surely it’ll go off long before it can be used? Unless people are taking up new hobbies in this time of social-distancing. Like making their own yogurt?) but we’ve been able to get what we need, and the rush on fruit and veg seems to have abated a little, so while tinned stuff seems hard to come by, there seem to be sufficient supplies of food to live off. And we never ate much tinned stuff before this all started so I’m not sure why I’d want to start now. Then again, the dire situation in the supermarkets might have been caused by panic-buying but those of us who didn’t join in are the ones who feel pretty stupid at the moment so maybe I should reassess my policy on tinned produce. In the interests of full disclosure, I did join in with the panic buying a little bit (not exactly a shock revelation given that I already wrote about doing just that in this post), but only insofar as I’d have enough stuff to last a potential two-week period of self-isolation and I’m going to run out of that stuff fairly soon, without showing the slightest hint that I might have COVID-19.

So it’s all a bit irritating really.

Particularly if I now get COVID-19.

Admittedly if I do get COVID-19, perhaps a lack of loo roll would not necessarily be my primary concern. But I imagine it would still be a bit of a concern.

On a positive note, the supermarket I did dare to venture into (along with Mini-Proclaims) was a Waitrose, (I just wasn’t brave enough for Aldi) and they have adopted a social-distancing policy of restricting the numbers of shoppers inside the store at any one time. It was mildly irritating to have to queue outside initially (and because the people in the queue were all standing the requisite two metres apart, I initially mistook them for slightly antisocial loiterers and tried to walk into the shop without queuing. The manager corrected my mistake with the exemplary courtesy that you’d expect of a Waitrose employee but it was mildly embarrassing until I observed several other shoppers make exactly the same mistake as me) but it didn’t take too long and then, once my daughter and I crossed the threshold, there were so few other people in there it really was the nirvana of shopping experiences.

Except for the lack of toilet paper obviously.

 

 

‘Working’ From Home

James Proclaims (4)

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When last I blogged, I did so from my office in a very much still open, though poorly attended, school. That same day the government decided to close schools, although they did give us the remainder of the week to keep things ticking over, which was nice of them. It was not at all challenging with most of the staff already ‘self-isolating’ and the added bonus of having to manage the behaviour of some now very disaffected year 11 students who had just been told that the exams they’ve spent their entire secondary education working towards, would now not be taking place.

And then on Friday, we closed the gates indefinitely (I mean I didn’t help with the closing of the gates, the people who usually close the gates did the closing of the gates) and all staff, bar the few who have been requisitioned to continue working with the children of people who find themselves included on the government’s list of ‘key-workers’ (which is a list that is open to interpretation and could include more or less anyone who has a job), have been instructed to work from home. Which I started doing in earnest yesterday.

Working from home does present some challenges. My current role doesn’t involve any teaching (though I feel I should point out that I am a fully-qualified and vaguely competent teacher and should the need arise I’m as capable as anyone of boring a room full of teenagers on a range of topics) so, unlike many of my colleagues, I don’t have to learn how to deliver lessons remotely to our students. Which is a relief, because it seems like something I would be quite bad at. Not that the vast majority of pupils will necessarily be availing themselves of any online learning opportunities that are provided. And not just because they can’t be bothered (though that will be true of some) but more likely because I work in the kind of school where social disadvantage is prevalent and a lot of the students won’t have access to the internet.

And actually, for a lot of those students, the lack of access to an education is the least of their worries. Schools are far from perfect institutions, but they do provide a place of safety and a continuity that is going to now be absent from the lives of some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.

But, under the current circumstances, it’s hard to argue that closing schools wasn’t the right thing to do. And it’s hardly the only thing that’s impacted on our lives as we all wake up to daily to what appears to be an ever-worsening crisis.

And working from home, in the sense that I can do a lot of my paperwork from home, is hardly the biggest inconvenience, all things considered. Indeed, it seems like an opportunity to catch up on said paperwork, given that I rarely get any of it done when I’m at school.

Despite not actually teaching, I do still work with students quite a lot when I’m at school.

I also have to attend a lot of meetings.

Many of which appear to about other meetings.

Without these other demands on my time, you’d imagine I’d be tearing through the paperwork at home. However, it turns out that working from home is not without its difficulties.

My wife and daughter might seem like the most obvious distractions, but actually Mrs Proclaims and I have managed to be come to an agreement about how we’re going to manage this unheralded state of affairs and we do have one room in the house that can function adequately as a home office. I have custody in the mornings, while she has custody of our not-undemanding toddler (which is even more challenging  without the usual plethora of toddler groups, which have helped my wife maintain some sense of sanity for the last nineteen months since our offspring entered the world). We switch roles in the afternoon, so she can work on her PhD while I manage the childcare. Which works in my favour as this incorporates my daughter’s nap time, but, it does allow me to attempt to continue working while she sleeps and try to complete what is essentially a full day’s work.

I’m sure as time goes on, we’ll all get on top of each other, but I think that, despite living in a house that is very much smaller that would be ideal, we can make it work for the most part.

No, the problem with working from home is…

…well it’s me.

I’m quite good at working at work. There really isn’t much else to do there.

But working from home presents so many opportunities to not work at all.

And I’m not very good at ignoring them.

So yesterday I accomplished very little of what I set out to do.

And I almost felt guilty about that.

Fortunately by around midday I’d received a flurry of emails from people who needed answers to questions that they believed I could clarify.

I admire their faith in my knowledge but I could not answer their questions.

What I could do is consult a database that they also had access to and tell them what they could have easily found out for themselves.

It was, for a few hours, like actually being in work.

Because a lot of my days are spent telling people stuff they could easily find out for themselves.

It’s not how I meant to spend my day, but it definitely was work and so my guilt was appeased.

Today, however, I must do better.

Although, as I have spent the first part of my ‘working day’ writing this, I would say the signs are not particularly promising…

 

 

 

Becoming The Hero I Was Born To Be

James Proclaims (4)

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Despite the fact that we’re now all living in a world that is eerily reminiscent of the beginning of every Zombie movie ever, it’s nice to see that we British are displaying our usual ‘Dunkirk’ spirit.

Obviously I wasn’t around at the time of Dunkirk, and my historical knowledge may be a little sketchy here, but I assume that Dunkirk was the last time we ruthlessly and shamelessly elbowed each other out of the way in a desperate attempt to get to the last packet of loo roll on the shelf.

Many people are now ‘working’ from home. Sadly I am stuck ‘working’ in work, because I work in a school and schools, despite being notorious germ factories, are still open. In spite of the implication of the inverted commas in the last sentence, I am doing some work, but most of the kids are at home ‘self-isolating’ or ‘social distancing’ so they aren’t here and there is, therefore, rather less to do.

A lot of staff are also not here, and I could legitimately not be here, given that my asthma puts me into the category of the ‘most vulnerable’ and those of us in that category have been told we can go home. But my asthma is pretty well-controlled, and frankly it’s pretty easy to ‘social-distance’ yourself in a near-empty school so I’m still here.

Although I do ordinarily work with children on a day-to-day basis, it’s been years since I did any actual teaching and my main job is paperwork, meetings and managing other people. With all the meetings cancelled and rather fewer people to manage, I do now have time to focus on the massive pile of paperwork I’ve been ignoring for…

…well forever.

And I might even get some of it done.

But as my blog has been bereft of content in recent times, I thought I might also write this.

The current crisis doesn’t seem likely to end anytime soon so I imagine my blog might well experience a bit of a revival. It’s hardly a silver-lining to the particular cloud we’re under but possibly some might view it as an aluminium lining?

There aren’t too many obvious upsides to the Coronavirus epidemic. In one of my more frivolous moments I did wonder if, because it originated in bats, some of us might contract it and develop Bat-like superpowers. I could be a real life Batman.

Obviously mere moments after having that thought I was overcome with remorse and regret. How could I, in a time like this, allow myself to entertain such a stupid and juvenile idea?

I was so disgusted with myself that I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror.

Everyone knows that Batman doesn’t have the ‘powers of a bat’. Although he dresses up like a bat, his powers stem from being incredibly wealthy and presumably having some significant mental health issues.

In the unlikely event I were to establish bat-like superpowers as the result of contracting the coronavirus, it would be more akin to Man-Bat, a known adversary of Batman.

And no-one wants to be Man-Bat.

So I don’t think there are any upsides to COVID-19.

Except for the aforementioned Dunkirk spirit.

And I’ll need some of that, when I head off to the supermarket later to kick pensioners out of the way in my quest to get hold of some more pasta twirls.

Issues With Tissues (And Other Toiletries)

James Proclaims (4)

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The world has gone mad and I, apparently, have joined them.

For today I visited no less than nine supermarkets in a bid to get supplies for the seemingly inevitable period of self-isolation that awaits me.

I have no symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of writing, and indeed know of no-one personally who does. The chances of me contracting it eventually would seem, based on the various media outlets from which I obtain information, to be inevitable. Those same sources would lead me to believe that the chances of me becoming a ‘confirmed case’ in the next seven days to be highly unlikely.

So why the panic buying?

Well, pretty much because everyone else is.

A week or so ago, it all seemed like a bit of a joke. Who would imagine people would be in such a frenzy to buy toilet paper and soap? These are surely things that no supermarket ever runs out of.

And while it was frustrating not to be able to buy my favoured brand of the aforementioned items (which would usually be the cheap supermarket brand in both cases) I was able to purchase acceptable alternatives and roll my eyes with indignation at the overreactive loons who had depleted the shelves.

But a week on and the world is a very different place…

And you can’t get soap or toilet paper for love nor money. Well to be fair I haven’t tried purchasing anything with love. But my money is definitely failing to avail me of these things.

And so on a quest I went.

And by trawling through the various retail outlets of the Berkshire town in which I reside, I was able to get what I needed. Indeed I may have ended up buying slightly more than I needed by the end of my journey. Which makes me feel hypocritical, but at the same time the moral high ground could get very messy without toilet paper.

I couldn’t get pasta though. This is fine because I can live without pasta. I’m slightly perplexed why the British public at large have suddenly become such avid consumers of the stuff. I appreciate that it’s the sort of food that could come in handy during an extended period of time stuck at home, but there were plenty of other items still widely available that would do the same job.

Plus I received an unsolicited email from the founder of Deliveroo today assuring me that it will be business as usual for that organisation. So we’ll all be able to order Nando’s to our hearts content should self-isolation be truly necessary.

Despite the likelihood that most people won’t get the virus for some weeks, efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus are happening now and are impacting on many of us. There has been no sport this weekend to speak of, and many other events look set to be cancelled. I work in a school and, although we’re all set to go in tomorrow, the contingency planning for the inevitable closure has been very much a focus of the week just gone, and I’d be surprised if we don’t follow the example of literally every other country on the planet and close the schools very soon. And I’d be lying if I didn’t see some personal benefits to that particular state of affairs. I wouldn’t exactly be ‘off work’ because I have plenty of paperwork to keep me occupied for any amount of weeks that the gates might be shut but it would certainly be a change of pace.

Any lowering of stress levels as a result of a slightly lighter workload would obviously be mitigated by the crippling fear of getting sick. I’m not that worried about myself really. I do have a number of underlying respiratory conditions, which might make infection a more complex scenario for me, but I’m still unlikely to be among the most vulnerable. Like most people though, I know and care deeply about a lot of people who would be among that group so I do understand the current levels of hysteria.

It’s fair to say that COVID 19 is no laughing matter.

Which is a shame because I have thought of some jokes about it.

Given the seriousness of the whole affair it would probably be inappropriate to finish this post with such a joke.

Not like in the good old days of COVID 18, when you could laugh at anything.